Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The class

One of the high points of last week--quite literally, now that I think about it--found me in a garage-turned-classroom down the road, perched on a plastic chair that threatened to plop me on my uncoordinated derriere with the next wrong move. Sometimes, I honestly wonder how much of my ministry efficacy exists simply because of my willingness to make a fool of myself. I was sweating profusely from the gathered heat, my throat like sandpaper, but there was a grin that stretched from my soul all the way to my cheeks. I was belting out, slowly and with exaggerated enunciation, a Seeds Family Worship song: In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.

Before me, forty or so brown faces stood, clapping and singing just a few beats slower but with gusto. They are just second-level English students of a number of different religions, gathered from nations all around East Africa and some, even further. The verse was scrawled behind my head in dry-erase. Large smiles spread as our lungs filled; the beat gathered momentum African-style; and my palms stung, pink from clapping.

See, I've been wondering how to tell you about this new year, as we've been back--particularly a new class I've been excited to tell you about. But blogging, to me, has some degree of trepidation. Paging through the Sermon on the Mount, I am intrigued by Jesus' words from one chapter to the next: Let your light shine before others so that they may...give glory to your Father..., then, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing--that warning against doing good things for people to see us, not see God. I know all too well--and still not well enough--the stinking crevices of my own heart, and my love for others to think well of me. And still, I know that I need you to pray, that God is doing something here that I want to tell you, and that you are a part of this in sending us here! The Psalms talk about proclaiming His works of salvation in the assembly.

I'm so energized to tell you what He is doing in Uganda! I have heard statistics that since the conflict in South Sudan has begun, Uganda has been deluged with some 64,000 refugees.  Even when we arrived back, I was amazed by the increased number of darker faces, the long, lithe forms of the Sudanese that ambled down the street like so many leggy marionettes. So when I called too late to the YMCA--their term had already begun--I decided to pay a call to the refugee center you may remember from the Passion conference to which eMi sponsored their attendance over a year ago. (Those of you who have taken Worldwide Perspectives will remember how God can use displacement, too, to bring people to Himself.)

Sure enough, the center is bursting at the seams. They have over 500 enrolled in their English classes, career training, and Bible class program. And that's how I got to teach Bible stories twice on Thursdays to men and women that I so look forward to seeing every week. We're going through the Bible story by story, not jumping ahead.

But these students have limited English ability. So I've been pulling out the props (a basket of vegetables and a stuffed [puppy-turned-] sheep of C.'s for last week's story of Cain and Abel), the artwork, and the songs to help convey even a shade of the vibrancy these true stories carry. It is powerful to be able to convey the value of women, particularly to those covered heads in my class; to find out last week that enthusiasm wasn't just replacing comprehension as they related in detail the stories we've heard so far. Their oral/aural cultural abilities fascinate me.

And as much as my shoulders slope when I finally pull in the driveway at the end of the day, my heart soars. It is a devotional experience for me to pore through the Creation story, for example, and search out the clues it tells us about the kind of person God really is. I brought popcorn the first day, to show that God, too, showed people His kindness when He had delicious food ready for them when they were created on that sixth day.

A friend of mine, a former missionary kid from Chad, relayed some of her father's stories from teaching his Bible students the same way: story by story, laying the foundation of God's timeline that pointed to him. When they got to a verse in Isaiah 53, she said, he asked them about who this sinless man could be? It could only be God! they declared! And they threw a spontaneous party that lasted into the evening.

It is challenging to teach the surpassing grief of man's Fall, of the story of Cain and Abel, without much hope other than God's promise in Genesis 3 of someone who will crush the snake's head (even now, I see my sandal stomping in front of them as a visual). But I can't wait till they get to hear the whole story. I would love for you to pray for these wonderful students.

And for now, I will still endanger my life on a plastic chair now and then. It is so worth it.

 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth;
and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands.
God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him,
though he is not far from any one of us.
Acts 17:26-27


7 comments:

Ruthie H. said...

Thank you for sharing this post as it is both exciting and encouraging! It made me think of today's privilege for me to sit in the pregnancy resource center in Jinja and hear my friend Kate tell the story of David and Goliath to a group of Karamojong women and weave it into the Gospel story of how Jesus defeated death and sin for us. I loved watching the women's faces and eyes as they listened and answered questions. They were so there. How exciting to be able to share the Greatest Story ever told! Keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

Praying for you and your dear students! May the Lord continue to bless your beautiful family as you serve his children and seek his face.

Love in Christ,
Chelsey

Melissa Hutsell said...

Wonderful! You write with such skill to paint pictures in my mind of the scene. SO happy that you are happy doing this work! can't wait to hear more! Love you! M.

John and Janel Breitenstein said...

Ruthie, these are great words. Love to hear how this is going on in different parts of Uganda, too. Thanks so much for sharing! It's always great to hear from you.

John and Janel Breitenstein said...

Chelsey, I am so grateful for your prayers and your encouragement. May He be honored in all of this!

John and Janel Breitenstein said...

Melissa, you have so much going on right now, and still you took the time to make my day :). Thank you, friend, for encouraging me. Can't believe all He does here--! God bless in your crazy world of house showings!

Steve Finnell said...

SELECTIVE "FAITH ONLY" SALVATION

FAITH ONLY BELIEVERS IN CHRIST DENY THAT THE NEW COVENANT PLAN OF SALVATION WAS NOT IN EFFECT UNTIL AFTER THE DEATH, BURIAL, AND RESURRECTION OF JESUS. (THAT WOULD BE ON THE DAY OF PENTECOST) IN ORDER TO BE SAVED WITHOUT BEING BAPTIZED INTO CHRIST FOR THE FORGIVENESS OF THEIR SINS. (WATER BAPTISM) THEY PROCLAIM THAT THEY CAN BE SAVED LIKE THE THIEF ON THE CROSS. (LUKE 23:39-43)
IF MEN TODAY CAN BE SAVED LIKE, THE THIEF ON THE CROSS, THEN WHY CAN THEY NOT BE SAVED LIKE, THE RICH YOUNG RULER?

LUKE 18:18-22 A RULER QUESTIONED HIM, SAYING, "GOOD TEACHER, WHAT MUST I DO TO INHERIT ETERNAL LIFE?" 19 JESUS SAID TO HIM, "WHY DO YOU CALL ME GOOD? NO ONE IS GOOD EXCEPT GOD ALONE. 20 YOU KNOW THE COMMANDMENTS, 'DO NOT COMMIT ADULTERY, DO NOT MURDER, DO NOT STEAL, DO NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS, HONOR YOUR FATHER AND MOTHER.' 21 AND HE SAID, "ALL THESE THINGS I HAVE KEPT FROM MY YOUTH." 22 WHEN JESUS HEARD THIS, HE SAID TO HIM, "ONE THING YOU STILL LACK; SELL ALL THAT YOU POSSESS AND DISTRIBUTE IT TO THE POOR, AND YOU SHALL HAVE TREASURE IN HEAVEN; COME AND FOLLOW ME."

WHAT WAS THE RICH MAN'S PLAN OF SALVATION?

The rich man's question was what must I do to inherit eternal life?

1. Do not commit adultery.
2. Do not murder.
3. Do not steal.
4. Do not bear false witness.
5. Honor your father and mother.
6. Sell all your possessions and distribute them to the poor.

Jesus said do this and you shall have treasure in heaven.

Can men today be saved by, the rich man's plan of salvation? OF COURSE NOT!

Can men today be saved by, the thief on the cross plan of salvation? OF COURSE NOT!

The apostle Peter preached the first gospel sermon under the New Covenant on the Day of Pentecost.

THE NEW COVENANT PLANT OF SALVATION
1. FAITH: John 3:16
2. REPENTANCE: Acts 2:38
3. CONFESSION Romans 10:9-10
4. WATER BAPTISM: Acts 2:38, 1 Peter 3:21, Mark 16:16, Acts 22:16, Galatians 3:27, Romans 6:1-7, Colossians 2:12-13.

(All Scripture quotes from: NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE)
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